How water flips at charged titanium dioxide: An SFG-study on the water-TiO 2 interface

Schlegel, S.J. and Hosseinpour, S. and Gebhard, M. and Devi, A. and Bonn, M. and Backus, E.H.G.

Volume: 21 Pages: 8956-8964
DOI: 10.1039/c9cp01131e
Published: 2019

Photocatalytic splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen by utilizing sunlight and a photocatalyst is a promising way of generating clean energy. Here, we report a molecular-level study on heavy water (D 2 O) interacting with TiO 2 as a model photocatalyst. We employed the surface specific technique Sum-Frequency-Generation (SFG) spectroscopy to determine the nature of the hydrogen bonding environment and the orientation of interfacial water molecules using their OD-stretch vibrations as reporters. By examining solutions with various pD-values, we observe an intensity-minimum at around pD 5, corresponding to the balance of protonation and deprotonation of TiO 2 (point of zero charge). The majority of water molecules' deuterium atoms point away from the interface when the pD is below 5, and point towards the surface when the pD is higher than 5, with strong hydrogen bonds towards the surface. © the Owner Societies.

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